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May 21, 2015

Your ultimate guide to Philly Beer Week 2015

Libations Beer
Philly Beer Week M. Edlow/ for Visit Philadelphia™

Research from the Wharton School found that the presence of bars, restaurants and theaters plays a strong role in drawing college-educated adults to America's cities.

Back for its eighth year, Philly Beer Week runs from Friday, May 29 through Sunday, June 7. It’s the largest event of its kind in the United States, with more than 1,000 listings — from huge blowout parties to tap takeovers to pop-up beer gardens to homebrewing classes, and on and on.

According to PBW director Kristine Kennedy, visitors come from all over the country and even the world for 10 days of sudsy fun. “In almost every bar there’s somebody from out of town who traveled here, who planned their vacation around Philly Beer Week,” Kennedy says.

“We had a journalist from England here last year who was so inspired by it that he went back and started London Beer Week, and there are two Philadelphia expats who began Paris Beer Week last year; it’s infectious, people love the idea of it,” Kennedy says.

But the massive scope and size of PBW can make it challenging for even beer-obsessed locals to wade through the events and come up with a game plan.

A smart first step is to get the 2015 PBW app (available for iPhone and Android). It’s searchable by date, location, neighborhood and brewery. Most PBW events do not require tickets or advance reservations, so you’re practically guaranteed to find an event at a nearby venue that fits your criteria, even at the last minute. Follow @phillybeerweek on Twitter for updates.

In the meantime, read on to get a taste of what’s in store.


Opening Tap

PBW mascot The Hammer of Glory (HOG) makes its customary trek through the city before arriving at the 23rd Street Armory for the official kickoff party. Over 1,000 guests sample beers from more than 40 local breweries as well as two PBW collaboration beers, Brotherly Suds VI and Leuven on a Prayer. VIP ticketholders get early 6 p.m. admission and DiBruno Bros.’s beer-and-cheese pairings.

Friday, May 29, 6–10 p.m.; 23rd Street Armory, 22 South 23rd St.; tickets $46 general admission, $92 VIP, $25 designated driver

International Great Beer Expo

One of the largest beer festivals in the country, the Great Beer Expo showcases 75 breweries, more than 200 beers and local food trucks. VIP ticketholders attend a meet-and-greet with brewers and taste special beers beginning at 12:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Philadelphia-based Committee to Benefit Children.

Saturday, May 30, 12:30–5 p.m.; Philadelphia Navy Yard, 4747 South Broad St.; tickets $46 general admission; $75 VIP, $10 designated driver

Deschutes Brewery Street Pub

Philly is the second stop on the Deschutes Street Pub’s first nationwide tour. The Oregon brewery will transform Headhouse Square into “outdoor pub of epic proportions,” complete with a 400-foot bar and food from Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo, Mom Mom’s Polish Food Cart and The Twisted Tail. All proceeds go to the Vetri Foundation for Children.

Saturday, May 30, 12–10 p.m.; Headhouse Square, 2nd and Lombard streets; pay-as-you-go

East Passyunk Craft Beer Day

About a dozen restaurant and bars participate in South Philly’s PBW celebration, including the Pub on Passyunk East (meet-the-brewer brunch with Southern Tier Brewing Company), Le Virtu (outdoor grill party), and Stogie Joe’s (Rock the Block Party with craft beer, street food and live music to benefit CHOP). Also look for food and drink specials at Birra, The Bottle Shop, Fond, Bing Bing Dim Sum, Garage, Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar and Brigantessa.

Sunday, May 31, 11 a.m.–12 midnight (events and specials are staggered throughout the day); 1904 East Passyunk Ave.; tickets $35 for Rock the Block party (kids are free), other events pay-as-you-go

Throwdown in Franklintown

At this sixth annual showdown between Kite & Key owner Jim Kirk and Yards Brewing owner Tom Kehoe, beer-world celebrities take over a block in the Fairmount neighborhood for a fun battle royale.

Sunday, May 31, 2–6 p.m.; Kite & Key, 1836 Callowhill St.; pay-as-you-go

PBW Beer Garden at The Shambles

The official PBW beer garden at Headhouse Square returns for five evenings beginning on Monday, June 1. The first night features the two PBW collaboration beers, plus a selection from top local breweries. Count on at least eight taps from local and national breweries Tuesday through Friday.

Monday, June 1 through Friday, June 5, 5–9 p.m.; The Shambles at Headhouse Square, 2nd and Lombard Sts.; pay-as-you-go

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Chef Adam Trinidad hosts seven talented guest chefs for a pairing dinner at Sancho Pistolas. Chris Kearse (Will BYOB), Tim Spinner (La Calaca Feliz), Ned Maddock (Amis Trattoria), Aila DeVowe (Bar Ferdinand), Sean Magee (Heritage), Kris Serviss (Blue Duck Sandwich Co.) and Danielle Amabile (Oyster House) prepare eight courses complemented by 11 beers from Cantillon, Schneider Aventinus, Oxbow and more.

Tuesday, June 2, 7–10 p.m.; Sancho Pistolas, 19 West Girard Ave.; tickets $125

Fishtown FestivALE

Johnny Brenda’s, Fette Sau, Frankford Hall, Kensington Quarters, La Colombe, Fishtown Tavern and Bottle Bar East all have something worthwhile to offer during this daylong celebration that shuts down Fishtown’s Frankford Avenue.

Saturday, June 6, 12 noon–8 p.m.; Frankford Ave., between Girard Ave. and Master St.; pay-as-you-go

Music Fest at Dock Street

On the last day of PBW head to West Philly for beer, pizza and music at the seventh annual party at Dock Street Brewing Company, Philadelphia’s first microbrewery.

Sunday, June 7, 4-8 p.m.; Dock Street Brewing Company, 701 S. 50th St.; pay-as-you-go


For the whole family: 

Beer Garden at The Oval’s Future Sensations Exhibition

Parents and kids alike will enjoy Saint-Gobain’s Future Sensations, “five distinct ephemeral pavilions that take visitors on a sensory journey of science, storytelling and art.” While there, grab some refreshments from The Oval’s beer garden and a rotating lineup of food trucks. Everybody wins!

May 30–31 and June 2–6, hours vary, check; Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; pay-as-you-go

For a good cause: 

Farmer’s Lunch with Hof ten Dormaal

Brewer Jef Janssens of Belgium’s Hof ten Dormaal will discuss PBW collaboration beer Leuven on a Prayer at this Monk’s Café luncheon. Fifty percent of ticket sales go toward rebuilding Janssens’s brewery, which suffered a catastrophic fire in January.

Tuesday, June 2, 12-2 p.m., Monk’s Café, 264 S. 16th St.; tickets $60

For sour beer fans: 

Sour Days at Philly Homebrew Club

Explore the tangy beer trend at Philly Homebrew Club’s Sour Days, offering free tastings of sour home brews.

Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31, 12-4 p.m., Philly Homebrew Club, 1447 N. American St.; free

For oyster lovers:

Beer Oyster Cult

On the heels of the first big drinking weekend, restaurants and bars citywide refocus on food — pairing oysters on the half shell with craft beers.

Monday, June 1, 6-10 p.m.; check for locations; pay-as-you-go

For bargain hunters and wannabe rodeo stars: 

Percy Street's "Pigs in Space" and $3 Cans  

Percy Street Barbeque offers $3 cans of local beers throughout PBW, plus mystery cans on select days. Thursday’s “Pigs in Space” party features porky treats and a mechanical pig; intergalactic attire is suggested.

Friday, May 29–Sunday, June 7 (beer specials), Thursday, June 4, 5–11 p.m. (Pigs in Space); Percy Street Barbeque, 900 South Street; pay-as-you-go

For the geekiest of beer geeks:

Yards/USP Homebrew Analytics Workshop

At this workshop led by University of the Sciences faculty and staff from local breweries, home brewers learn how to sharpen their skills as their beer samples undergo a series of analytical tests.

Sunday, May 31, 12–2 p.m.; City Tap House University City, 3925 Walnut St.; tickets $15 (includes complimentary Yards draught)